New Line Cinema
Recent Friday the 13th-related rumor mongering has been centered around the possibility that the next film in the franchise might be going the found footage route — hopefully involving Jason with a GoPro camera attached to his hockey mask — but the first solid piece of actual news has turned things in an unexpected direction.
Jason Voorhees is heading to the small screen. Again. For the first time. Fans will recall the late ’80s syndicated television series that kept the “Friday the 13th” name while ignoring Jason and his questionable hobbies all together. Basically producers wanted to extend the brand but knew they’d never get a show about teens being slashed on a weekly basis past the censors, so instead they created a story about a pair of siblings searching for cursed antique items. Yes, it was usually as hokey and bad as it sounds, and not even directors like David Cronenberg or Atom Egoyan could change that.
But the television landscape is far more forgiving these days, so producer Sean S. Cunningham (who also helmed the first film) is crafting a new show that puts Jason front and center where he belongs. It’s early and little is known as to the details, but Deadline’s announcement features some odd claims that already have us worried.
“Jason Voorhees is synonymous with the genre,” says Cunningham, “and we plan to build on this legacy with a provocative and compelling take that expands upon the storylines that have already thrilled millions worldwide.”
If you’re wondering what storylines he’s referring to you’re not alone. Because really, he was a misshapen little boy who drowned while counselors screwed, his mother killed some of them and then Jason grew up, hit the gym and began slaughtering anyone he could get his hands on. Sure his family tree is a bit messed up and he body-swapped in Jason Goes to Hell, but none of those threads really scream out for a revisit.
Cunningham and his writers are developing “a storyline that re-imagines Jason in multiple time periods.” So does this mean Jason is a time-traveling serial killer? It’s an idea I can get behind especially if he’s chased through history by his nemesis, Tommy Jarvis, played by a returning Corey Feldman. I’m serious. This won’t happen though, so what could “multiple time periods” actually mean? His biology is questionable, but we know he was born in the ’70s and didn’t become a killer until the ’80s which means his actual lifetime is pretty limited. Will the show just drop him in medieval times or a Civil War battlefield without explanation? Doubtful.
Clouding things further is the additional statement that the series will also be “contemporary, focusing on the eclectic characters of Crystal Lake who are forced to confront the return of the killer, as new secrets about his wacky family are revealed.” How can the show be both contemporary and set in multiple time periods? Maybe it will feature a young Jason helping his mom run a summer camp, but periodically it will flash-forward to an adult Jason chopping up his neighbors? And while I can get onboard with a lot, I’m sincerely hoping the “wacky family” bit was added by Deadline and didn’t actually come from those involved with the show. “Wacky” does not jive with Jason’s world, and if they go that route I expect it will be a short-lived and highly forgettable series.
Bates Motel and Hannibal have shown that television prequels to established serial killer shenanigans can work, and clearly Cunningham and friends are hoping to capture some of that same magic. We’ll see what they’re planning sometime next year, but I’m hoping they’re listening to the fans on Twitter and go one of the following two routes.